Khris Middleton was hot in the first two quarters, but then got awfully quiet until the Bucks needed him again in the fourth quarter. In the end, he delivered.
Throughout the fourth, the Suns were able to stick around and trim the Bucks' lead to just four, but Middleton shut the door for good with a 3-pointer to give the Bucks a 101-94 lead with 1:05 remaining. The Suns would not score again and the Bucks would prevail 105-94. Middleton finished with a game-high 26 points and also pulled down seven rebounds.
Middleton was a perfect 7-for-7 in the first half from the field and tallied 17 points in the first two periods. The Suns simply didn't have enough wing players to adequately defend the Bucks and Middleton regularly found the smaller Brandon Knight and Devin Booker assigned to him. Jabari Parker also made a major impact early, scoring 10 points (eight in the first quarter) and picking up three first half assists.
On the other side, Alex Len seemed to take his matchup with Greg Monroe very seriously as he put up 13 points, ten rebounds, and five assists in the first half. Monroe also had a solid half with eight points and three assists, but he seemed to be frustrated with Len's success as the two picked up simultaneous fouls shortly before the Bucks went to halftime with a 53-47 lead.
The Bucks looked to put the Suns away early in the third quarter with a 7-0 run to open the second half and maintained a double-digit lead for much of the third. Unfortunately, they closed the quarter lackadaisically (more on that below) and allowed the Suns to get within five points on a John Jenkins buzzer-beating layup.
Milwaukee's struggles continued in the fourth quarter as they allowed the Suns to continue their run and rattle off the first five points of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 80. The Bucks pulled away a bit in the middle when Middleton hit back-to-back jumpers to give Milwaukee an eight-point lead, but the Suns reeled the Bucks back in again before Khris re-shut the door.
Parker wasn't far behind Middleton's 26 with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a quiet night with 10 points, six assists, and three rebounds, but the team's best plus/minus at +19. He took just five shots and struggled from the foul line (3/8), though he did hit a straight-away three in the third quarter.
The Bucks' homestand continues on Friday as they welcome the Orlando Magic to the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- John Henson was the first Bucks sub off the bench, entering for Antetokounmpo at the four minute mark.
- Greivis Vasquez started the second quarter. It was the first time he had played since Nov. 27. He tallied three assists and two rebounds in four second quarter minutes. Here's what he had to say about his performance after the game.
- Greg Monroe did not play a second in the fourth quarter.
- Rashad Vaughn ended the game with eight points, three steals, and a +16 in the box score, despite one of the season's worst plays. To close the third quarter, the Suns tried a Hail Mary pass, which Vaughn intercepted with roughly three seconds left. After a few nonchalant dribbles around the Suns basket, John Jenkins stole the ball from Vaughn and laid it off the glass before the buzzer sounded to cut the Suns' lead to five.
- It's been reiterated many times, but Antetokounmpo will not be covering point guards any time soon despite Kidd's recent pronouncement of him as the Bucks' point guard next season. Throughout the first quarter on Wednesday, Antetokounmpo covered the Suns' Tyson Chandler, while Monroe covered Alex Len.
- I just can't comprehend how defenders allow Parker to cut behind them for layups.
- Somehow, Knight ended up on Parker on the final possession of the first quarter. The Bucks had given the ball for Middleton to isolate for the final shot, but he called an audible and cleared out the right side of the floor for a Parker post-up. It took Tyler Ennis too long to get out of the way, so Parker was rushed, but still it was nice to see Middleton make the adjustment.
- I'm under the impression that the Bucks will throw Miles Plumlee an alley-oop from anywhere on the floor at anytime if Plumlee points to the sky.
- Watching Devin Booker and Rashad Vaughn in the same game made me sad.
- At this point, Middleton just seems offended when teams put what he feels is an inferior defender on him. He had that look to him in the first half anytime the Suns put Booker on him and he ended up getting hot, scoring 17 first half points. It happened again on back-to-back baskets in the fourth quarter tonight.
- Watching Antetokounmpo dribble to his left has become my new favorite thing. For much of this season, it has almost been an assumption that he is going to come back to his right with a euro step, but recently he has added two counter moves: a sneaky left handed lay-in and a powerful dunk. The beauty of the moves is that the moment you need to make a decision on which move he is making is pretty much at the exact same time.
- Chandler began counting aloud during Antetokounmpo's free throw attempts in the second half, a tactic we've seen from opponents before during his extended free throw routine. The officials eventually told Chandler to stop, but it seemed to rattle Giannis on the way to a 3-for-8 night at the line.